Jul 18, 2008

It's All About Words: A List of 30+ Word Facts

It is said that words, when used skillfully can be more powerful than actions! Words make actions possible and they can give meaning to actions which the latter is incapable of expressing vividly. No wonder why people always resort to words. This article brings you not just to actions but to great enlightenment of certain facts about some English words.

The white part of your fingernail is called the lunula.

The term "dog days" has nothing to do with dogs. It dates back to Roman times, when it was believed that Sirius, the Dog Star, added its heat to that of the sun from July3 to August 11, creating exceptionally high temperatures. The Romans called the period dies caniculares, or "days of the dog."

Nice once meant silly, lazy, lecherous, and strange. Back in the 1300s, if a man told a woman he was "a nice guy," the lady was liable to slap him and run the other way.

Facetious and abstemious contain all the vowels in the correct order, as does arsenious, meaning "containing arsenic."
"Polish" is the only word in the English language that when capitalized is changed from a noun or a verb to a nationality.
The only 15 letter word that can be spelled without repeating a letter is uncopyrightable.
The verb "cleave" is the only English word with two synonyms which are antonyms of each other: adhere and separate.
The highest scoring word in the English language game of Scrabble is 'Quartz'. This will score 164 points if played across a red triple-word square with the Z on a light blue double-letter square. It will score 162 points if played across two pink double-word squares with the Q and the Y on those squares.

The English word with the most consonants in a row is latch string.
The word "robot" was created by Karel Capek. It came from Czech/Slovak "robotovat," which means to work very hard.
The only word that consists of two letters, each used three times is the word "deeded."
A hamlet is a village without a church and a town is not a city until it has a cathedral.
The word "karate" means "empty hand."
The word "girl" appears only once in the Bible.
Switching letters is called spoonerism. For example, saying jag of Flap an, instead of flag of Japan.
"Rhythm" and "syzygy" are the longest English words without vowels.
'Strengths' is the longest word in the English language with just one vowel.
The longest word in the English language, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. It is a a pneumonia's caused by the inhalation of very fine silicate or quartz dust. The only other word with the same amount of letters is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconioses, its plural.
Alma mater means bountiful mother.
No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver, and purple.
The language Malayalam, spoken in parts of India, is the only language whose name is a palindrome.

The words 'sacrilegious' and 'religion' do not share the same etymological root.
The phrase "sleep tight" originated when mattresses were set upon ropes woven through the bed frame. To remedy sagging ropes, one would use a bed key to tighten the rope.
The word denim comes from 'deNimes', or from Nimes, a place in France.
"Freelance" comes from a knight whose lance was free for hire, i.e. not pledged to one master.
The term "devil's advocate"comes from the Roman Catholic church. When deciding if someone should become a saint, a devil's advocate is always appointed to give an alternative view.
When two words are combined to form a single word (e.g., motor + hotel = motel, breakfast + lunch = brunch) the new word is called a "portmanteau."
Avocado is derived from the Spanish word 'aguacate' which is derived from 'ahuacatl' meaning testicle.
The phrase "rule of thumb" is derived from an old English law which stated that you couldn't beat your wife with anything wider than your thumb.
Lucifer is latin for "Light Bringer". It is a translation of the Hebrew name for Satan, Halael. Satan Means "adversary", devil means "liar".

There is a word in the English language with only one vowel, which occurs six times: Indivisibility.
The letter W is the only letter in the alphabet that doesn't have 1 syllable... it has three.
"Bookkeeper" and "bookkeeping" are the only words in the English language with three consecutive double letters.
There is a seven letter word in the English language that contains ten words without rearranging any of its letters, "therein": the, there, he, in, rein, her, here, here, ere therein, herein.

"dream t" is the only English word that ends in the letters "mt".
There are only three words in the English language with the letter combination "uu." Muumuu, vacuum and continuum.
The oldest word in the English language is "town"
The word "Boondocks" comes from the Tagalog (Filipino) word "Bundok," which means mountain.
There are only four words in the English language which end in "-duos": tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous.
The word "samba" means "to rub navels together."
The word "set" has more definitions than any other word in the English language.
The word "queuing" is the only English word with five consecutive vowels.
The shortest French word with all five vowels is "Roseau" meaning bird.
Pinocchio is Italian for "pine head."
The infinity sign is called a confiscates.
The only word in the English language with all five vowels in reverse order is "subcontinental."
A poem written to celebrate a wedding is called an hypothalamic.
Cannibalism, eating human flesh, is also called anthropology.
Rhythms" is the longest English word without the normal vowels, a, e, i, o, or u.
The plastic things on the end of shoelaces are called eaglets.

Truly, the facts above are really fascinating. It's really more than intellectually satisfying to delve deeper into the world of words.


Anonymous said...

The word "queuing" is the only English word with five consecutive vowels.
The shortest French word with all five vowels is "Roseau" meaning bird.

Neither of those words has five vowels.

Anonymous said...

Some of your facts are wrong. "Pinnochio" means pine eye, not pine head. And it's "Oiseau", not "Roseau."
Anyway, great stuff.

Unknown on 5:26 AM said...

The shortest French word with all five vowels is "Roseau" meaning bird.

Even assuming you meant "Oiseau", this is a bit of a cheat because in French "y" is officially considered a vowel.

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